Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley Seeks Investigation of CIA Handling of 1999 Report on Al Qaeda

May 16, 2002


Grassley Seeks Investigation of CIA Handling of 1999 Report on Al Qaeda


? Sen. Chuck Grassley today asked the Central Intelligence Agency Office of Inspector General to probe how the agency handled a government report in 1999 that warned al Qaeda terrorists could crash planes into government buildings in the Washington area, including the Pentagon, CIA headquarters and the White House.

This new revelation from a 1999 report provided to the former Clinton administration and funded by the CIA confirms that the FBI and CIA were getting specific early warnings about terrorists plots, including crashing planes into buildings.

"The 1999 report should serve as a reminder that the focus of Congress and its oversight must be on what the intelligence communities knew and what they did in response to this knowledge," Grassley said. "The FBI and CIA need to be investigated for what they did, or did not do, so we can make sure we don't make mistakes in the future."

Grassley on Wednesday asked the Department of Justice Inspector General to investigate a similar warning that went unheeded at the FBI. Grassley's requested the DOJ-IG to review how the FBI handled a warning from an agent in Phoenix that Arab nationals associated with Osama bin Laden were obtaining flight lessons. Grassley also has called on FBI Director Robert Mueller to release to the public the Phoenix memo.

May 17, 2002

The Honorable John L. Helgerson

Inspector GeneralCentral Intelligence Agency Office of Inspector General

Washington, D.C. 20505

Dear Inspector General Helgerson:

I am requesting you investigate how the Central Intelligence Agency handled a report it funded and requested from the Library of Congress warning that al Qaeda terrorists could crash airplanes into government buildings.

This report is entitled "The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?" and was issued in September of 1999. The report can be found at: http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Sociology-Psychology%20of%20Terrorism.htm

The report lists al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden as one of the most dangerous threats to the United States, and that we should expect bin Laden "will most likely retaliate in a spectacular way for the cruise missile attack against his Afghan camp in August 1998," (page 13).

Morever, the report lists several forms of attack al Qaeda may employ against the United States and, specifically, Washington, DC.

One of those attacks is described as follows: "Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House," (page13).

Clearly, this represents one of the most alarming indicators and warnings signs of the terrorist plot of September 11, 2001. The fact that the government, and specifically an intelligence arm of the government, had a report in hand that Islamic terrorists could crash planes into buildings raises serious questions how the government responded.

According to conversations between my staff and staff of the Library of Congress Federal Research Division, this report was commissioned in January of 1999 by the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which reports to the Director of Central Intelligence. The point of contact for the NIC was George Fidas. The report submitted to the NIC in September of 1999, and the Library of Congress, per its usual practice, did not circulate this report to other government agencies.

I ask that your review include the factors that prompted the request of this report, including intelligence already possessed by the government; what action was taken or not taken in response to this report; what persons and agencies viewed the report and how wide its circulation was; and whether this information was factored in with other intelligence about terrorist threats to the United States.

Congress, and most importantly the American public, deserve answers to these questions. This must be investigated not only to learn from the failures to respond to this and other warnings, but also to reassure the public that its government is accountable and is transparent to Congressional oversight.

As the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee''s Crime and Drugs Subcommittee, my Congressional oversight duties require me to ensure government agencies operate to the best of their abilities, especially when it comes to protecting our national security.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

Cordially yours,

Charles E. Grassley

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs